TAMPA, Fla. – Whether attending a sporting event or watching from the comfort of your couch, you have certainly noticed the number of people who made it inside the stadium often does not resemble the announced attendance. Sometimes, the difference is considerable….and laughable.
Much of the difference in announced and actual number of attendees can be attributed to unused freebies. For instance, on dates honoring groups such first responders, active and retired military and teachers, or perhaps homecoming, many tickets go unused. However, they all count toward announced attendance because they were distributed.
Of course, people will attend if a team is winning. That brings us to USF football. The Bulls went 1-11 in 2022 and are 4-29 the past three years with only one win against a fellow FBS team during that stretch. Hence, it is understandable that a large number of tickets would go unused.
In the news: USF Formally Opens Indoor Performance Facility; Still Looking At 2026 Or 2027 For On-Campus Stadium
According to data available through the Tampa Sports Authority, an average of 16,889 attended five Bulls games at Raymond James Stadium in 2022. (An October game against East Carolina was relocated to FAU Stadium in Boca Raton.) It is a figure that differs greatly from the average announced attendance of 29,650. In other words, nearly as many did not show up, about 13,000, as those who did.
The hope off Fowler Avenue, of course, is that Alex Golesh will get the needle pointed in the right direction. Not that home games next season against Rice and Charlotte in a watered down American Athletic Conference are going to tilt the scales in terms of attendance, certainly not like visiting Alabama will on September 16. Still, perhaps the first-year coach can generate enough good feeling that more fans will show up regardless of the opposition. We will see.
Here is a game-by-game look at announced and actual attendance in 2022.
September 3 vs. BYU
Announced: 31,521 | Actual: 18,844, or 60% of announced
Comment: Following a two-and-a-half-hour weather delay, lightning struck early and often as the Cougars had a 28-0 lead by the time the game was 11 minutes old. It was 38-7 at the half, and many of the nearly 19,000 that showed up were on their way home from what would be a 50-21 defeat.
September 10 vs. Howard
Announced: 28,554 | Actual: 14,748 | 52%
Comment: A 42-20 win marked the lone victory of the season. Howard, an FCS program, is coached by former Bulls offensive lineman and assistant Larry Scott, who probably shook his head at the site of so many empty seats in the lower bowl.
In the news: USF Receives $5.1 Million Naming Rights Gift For Indoor Performance Facility
October 15 vs. Tulane
Announced: 31,053 | Actual: 16,521 | 53%
Comment: The aforementioned relocated game against East Carolina resulted in more than one month between games at RJS. A 45-31 loss, in which quarterback Gerry Bohanon was injured and done for the season, dropped the Bulls to 1-6. It was Jeff Scott’s last home game on the USF sideline.
November 12 vs. SMU
Announced: 24,907 | Actual: 9,209 | 37%
Comment: Daniel Da Prato’s first game as interim coach was tied at the half. Hence, what few fans showed up had reason to stick around before the Mustangs pulled away in a 41-23 win.
November 26 vs. UCF
Announced: 32,217 | Actual: 25,121 | 78%
Comment: Many USF fans exited RJS when the home team fell behind 31-7 in the third quarter. But what a thriller the final scheduled War on I-4 turned out to be as the Bulls roared back to take a one-point lead before UCF pulled out a 46-39 win in the final minute.
The aggregate actual attendance for the five games was 84,443, or about 4,000 less than the 88,496 announced for the September 17 game between the Bulls and Gators in Gainesville.
While on the subject of college football attendance at RJS, the Gasparilla Bowl between Wake Forest and Missouri on December 23 had an announced crowd of 34,370. Only 13,136 showed up. Bowl officials distributed thousands of tickets to teachers throughout the Tampa Bay region, though most went unused thanks largely to a windchill in the 30s at kickoff and the fact neither team was of regional interest.
The Reliaquest Bowl between Mississippi State and Illinois on January 2 had actual attendance of 27,882, the highest figure at RJS for the 2022-23 college football season. Announced attendance was 35,797. It was the first year Reliaquest sponsored the game formerly known as the Outback Bowl.